Feline Arthritis: What Is It & What Can We Do?

By Veterinarian No Comments
Arthritis sucks. I know that’s a bit of an unorthodox way to start a blog, but why beat around the bush on something so obviously true! And yes, fine, I’m still a young spring chicken (relative to Dr.Chamandy but don’t tell him I said that), what do I know about arthritis? Well let’s learn together, friends.  


Arthritis is defined as a chronic degenerative disease resulting in changes to the tissues that comprise a joint, such as cartilage, joint capsule, and surrounding bone. So what does that mean? Let’s take a look at the diagram below: The surrounding light blue is skin, dark blue is muscle, and the light pink area is the joint capsule. Within the joint capsule, you see the dark pink area which consists of synovial fluid and the ends of two bones with a nice layer of cartilage (white) on each bone. The cartilage on the ends of bones act as a cushion for the joint. The synovial fluid within the joint capsule acts as a lubricant to help bones move smoothly within the capsule. Together, the cartilage and synovial fluid work together to ensure all bones move easily and without pain.  

That’s all fine and dandy until you get destruction of the cartilage. The two bones then lose their nice cushion and rub together. Another common finding with arthritis is the formation of new bone (bone spurs seen on the far right photo) which also rub against other bones. Bones rubbing against each other can create a lot of inflammation and pain within the joint. 


If reading this gave you some form of PTSD to the last time you tried to get up off the floor, then you get it: Arthritis sucks. These arthritic changes are similar in humans and animals.  

So, what causes arthritis in joints? An injury to a joint can cause early onset arthritis. However, the most common cause of arthritis is day to day wear-and-tear, resulting in chronic degeneration, which usually manifests at an older age.  

Now that we’re all caught up on what arthritis is, what does this have to do with our furry feline friends? Sadly, cats (and dogs) can suffer from arthritis as well! We often find that the stress of coming to the veterinarian gives cats so much adrenaline that they don’t show us any pain, this is an instinctual survival mechanism of theirs. Therefore, it’s very important for owners to notice the signs of arthritis at home in order for us to help them!  

Here is a list of some common signs that owners should be on the lookout for: 

All of these behavioural changes can negatively affect your cat’s quality of life.  

 If you think that your cat has some of the above signs, here are some things you can do at home to help your cat! 

  • Provide accessible litter boxes 
  • Ensure that your cat doesn’t have to jump / climb stairs to get to their litter box 
  • Ensure that the litter box isn’t too tall to climb into 
  • Ensure that the litter box has enough space inside for your cat 
  • Provide accessible food and water  
  • Ensure that your cat doesn’t have to jump / climb stairs to get to food/water  
  • Easy access to favourite elevated spaces  
  • Example: provide some stairs for your cat to get onto a couch or bed  
  • Place some slip-resistant surfaces on the floor such as carpets / rugs. 
  • Have lots of supportive blankets, pillows, and bedding around for your cat 

 Lastly, if your cat is displaying any of the signs above, you should strongly consider bringing your cat to the vet! At the vet, we will assess your cat’s pain, joint mobility, and strength. From this assessment, there are a number of things we recommend: 

  • Joint support supplements 
  • This can be added to your cats food and helps to strengthen their cartilage! 
  • Weight loss  
  • Extra weight on your cat puts more pressure on their joints, which exacerbates their arthritis.  
  • Daily pain medications  
  • This is to help your cat feel more comfortable in their day to day life.  
  • A NEW treatment called Solensia  
  • Solensia is a once monthly injection done at the veterinarian 
  • It consists of a monoclonal antibody, which targets a “nerve growth factor” which is a specific protein that stimulates pain from arthritis.  
  • Solensia relieves pain for 1 month with much less side effects than other medications. 

 If you have any questions about anything discussed in this blog OR if you want to bring your cat in for an arthritis assessment, then give us a call!  

We always want to make sure that our feline friends are feeling their very best!  

 Fe-line fine,  



Minimizing Cat Predation of Birds and Small Mammals

By Health, Veterinarian No Comments

March, 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Dr. Kim Quinn

                It is estimated that cats kill approximately 1.3-4 billion birds and 6.3-22 billion mammals, annually (Loss, Will, & Marra, 2012).  In Canada, this amounts to about 269 million birds and destroy 2 million bird nests in Canada every year (Stewardship Center for BC, 2013).  Cats are the single greatest cause of mortality for these species.  While, it may not seem as important for the loss of mice and rats, it is extremely important to help reduce the loss of species such as songbirds, whose numbers are already threatened by flying into windows and being hit by cars.  Cats have caused multiple species on several islands to become extinct.  We typically don’t know the extent of the numbers cats kills since they bring animals home less than 25% of the time (Stewardship Center for BC, 2013)!

So, what can we do?

The best means of prevention is keeping our cats indoors.

Or, bring them outside when they are on a leash, or in a fenced in area. Keeping them indoors also leads to a longer lifespan, and reduces the risk of cat fight injuries and diseases such as fleas, intestinal parasites, and Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

If you have an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat, having something on the cat to scare the birds can help.

Birdsbesafe® cat collar is a Nylon quick-release collar with bright colours and patterns.  Cats wearing the collars killed 19 times fewer birds than uncollared cats in the spring (Willson, Okunlola, & Novak, 2015)!

Cat Bibs can reduce predation by making a cat more visible to prey, and interfering with their ability to pounce on the prey.

– Wearing a collar with a bell or whistle can be helpful, but since many cats wait quietly for prey that venture too close, it may not prevent as many predation events.



– If you feed birds in your yard, keep feeders on high poles, away from trees or other areas where cats can hide and stalk.

– Don’t allow bird seed to stay on the ground.

– If in doubt, don’t use a bird feeder at all.


Spay and Neuter your pets, and advocate for wild animals to be spayed or neutered as well, to reduce the overpopulation.  If you have issues with number of feral cats in your area, notify the Humane Society for solutions such as trapping cats for spay/neuter programs, or adoption if the cats are not feral.

Conservation of species is everyone’s responsibility, keeping our native species safe also will help to keep our pets safe!


Loss, S., Will, T., & Marra, P. (2012). The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States. Nature Communications (4), 1-7. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2380

Stewardship Center for British Columbia (2013). Species at Risk Voluntary Stewardship Practices for: Reducing Domestic and Feral Cat Predation.

Willson, S., Okunlola, I., & Novak, J. (2015). Birds be safe: Can a novel cat collar reduce avian mortality by domestic cats (Felis catus). Global Ecology and Conservation (3), 359-366.


Senior Pets: How Can We Help?

By Dental Disease, Disease, Health, Nutrition, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Staff, Veterinarian No Comments

Dr. Kim Quinn                                                                                                                                                                  December 2017

In general, we consider our dog and cats to be ‘senior’ pets when they are over 7 years of age.  This rule may differ with large breed dogs, since these breeds age faster than smaller breed pets.  Depending on the species, we can see different changes over time.  Some of these changes may be preventable, and some we can slow the development over time.  So, how do I know what to do and when?

Here are some of the more common diseases found in senior pets.

    1. Lenticular Sclerosis of the lenses of the eyes- This is seen with almost all geriatric pets, when the lens of the eye becomes gray and opaque over time. This is different from a true cataract, since dogs don’t become blind from the issue, but vision will decrease over time, especially in low light conditions. There is no treatment to reduce the progression, but dogs tend to do well with this issue over time.  Cataracts can also form in dogs and cats, though the majority of time they are due to other health conditions, such as diabetes.  If your vet is concerned there is a cataract present, they may recommend blood and urine testing to rule out diabetes as a possible underlying cause.
    2. Arthritis and Stiffness– Over time, joint wear and tear leads to inflammation, cartilage damage and pain. Most of these pets are stiff when they first get up, but as they start moving their joints produce synovial fluid to increase lubrication which facilitates easier moving as the day progresses.  Some other signs you may see with arthritis include: hesitation to jump or go up/down the stairs, limping, reduction in energy level, and specifically for cats- urinating/defecating outside the litterbox.  There are many different treatments available for arthritis such as: joint supplementation (i.e., glucosamine/chondroitin), pain medication, low impact exercises, and physiotherapy.   Walking and exercise are very important for our senior animals, since we want to keep their muscles intact as long as possible.  Continue bringing them for their daily walks, monitoring how well they are tolerating them.  More frequent number of shorter walks is the best recipe for the seniors.  Swimming is a great low-impact exercise, as well as hiding food in toys such as kongs- to keep their muscles and brain active!
    3. Urinary or Fecal Incontinence- Urinary incontinence is relatively common in spayed female dogs as they age due to estrogen level reduction in the body causing relaxation of the urinary tract sphincter muscle. Urinary incontinence can be seen by drips of urine in the place where the pet was laying.  There are times when urinary incontinence can be confused with a urinary tract infection, or when the open urinary tract sphincter can predispose to a urinary tract infection.  A urinalysis is performed first to help determine underlying causes, and which treatment (antibiotics, an estrogen supplement, or both), may be needed.  Fecal incontinence can be more difficult to diagnose and treat.  This can be caused by nerve issues, an issue with the anal sphincter, or gastrointestinal disease.  Depending on the cause, treatments may be completely different.
    4. Dental Disease- Plaque and tartar are made up of bacteria and food. Initially, they adhere to the teeth, but keep accumulating until they cause gingivitis, recession of the gumline, and finally root disease and decay.  Our senior patients are most at risk because of years of tartar accumulation.  Tooth root abscesses can cause infection, pain and severe disease necessitating emergency treatment. Daily tooth brushing helps to decrease accumulation of plaque and tartar over time.  Dental cleanings can aid in reducing the further progression of dental disease, and helps identify diseased teeth which may need removal prior to causing abscesses.
    5. Lumps and Bumps

 – It is common for humans and animals to have growths as we age. Most lumps will be benign (non-cancerous), but since they could be cancerous we would like to examine them to ensure this isn’t the case.  If there is any question, we may recommend either a needle biopsy, or to have the entire lump removed and sent away for analysis.  This will help us to plan if we need any further stages of treatment, or if the lump has been removed in its entirety.

6. Major organ abnormalities, i.e., Kidneys, Thyroid- These organs commonly have issues with function as time goes on. In cats, an overactive thyroid gland, as well as kidney disease are two different disease which require medical treatment.  An overactive thyroid gland can cause weight loss, hyperactivity, ravenous appetite, and heart disease.  In dogs, an underactive thyroid gland is a common issue, leading to decreased metabolism, weight gain, poor hair coat, and lethargy.  In either pet, kidney disease is a wearing out process over time, causing increased drinking and urination, weight loss, and loss of muscle mass.   With any of these issues, we would recommend blood and urine testing in order to diagnose, then determine types of treatment and prognosis

7. Senility– As we age, our cognitive function will decline, the same happens with our pets. This is often seen as disorientation or confusion, and especially disruption of normal sleep-wake cycles.  In cats, this may mean meowing at odd times of the day, often in the middle of the night.  They may ask for more food when the bowl is full, and otherwise have changes in behaviour over time.  In dogs, asking to go outside more often without needing to go to the bathroom, the development of anxiety disorders, and there is change in the amount they would like to interact with their owners.  With senility, there are a few different treatment types we may adopt such as: Selegiline, a supplement used to aid in cognitive dysfunction syndrome, brain health diets (i.e., Purina Neurocare), or antianxiety medications

8. Proper Diet- Ensuring the correct nutritional balance is important, older animals may need more fiber, less calories, and lower levels of protein, but this is all based on the individual. Calories are especially important for us to monitor over time, since so many senior pets are overweight!  We can calculate the approximate number of calories needed for your pet anytime.


This is just a quick overview of some of the common issues we deal with concerning our senior pets.  If you have questions or concerns about your pet, please give us a call!

Oh, no! My pet ate something it shouldn’t have!

By Health, Nutrition, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Saftey, Staff, Veterinarian No Comments

Do you need to keep your garbage and laundry hamper locked tight, lest your pet get into something?  Unfortunately, this is such a common issue in the animal world.  While some ingestions may be fairly benign, causing mild GI upset, others can be much more severe requiring medical intervention or even surgery.

Each year the ASPCA posts the top toxins which they received calls for, with human prescription medications topping the list and over-the-counter medications at a close second! Check out the list from 2016 for more information. Many of these ingestions can require lengthy hospital stays and treatments, with some having much better outcomes than others.

What about an animal who eats an object?  We have had to perform surgery on many animals to remove foreign objects- usually these will show up on X-Rays, sometimes barium is given to outline the object.  A few of the more memorable objects include: clothing (underwear and socks are the dog’s clothing of choice), string (more common in cats, of course, string can actually saw through intestines- very dangerous!), pieces of foam puzzle mat flooring, rocks, an electrical resistor, branches, condoms, bones, etc., etc.  Check out some of the oddest X-Ray winners from 2016!

What should I do if I suspect my pet ingested something inappropriate?
Call your vet immediately!  If it is something that requires the pet to vomit, they’ll need to see your pet as soon as possible, before the object is absorbed into the body, or passes from the stomach into the intestines.

If it is a potential toxin, your vet will recommend calling the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661.  There is a cost to the service, but the benefits of expert toxicology and emergency medicine advice to further direct treatment is worth its weight in gold.  There are some toxins where getting the animal to vomit can be dangerous, so if you are able to get specific information such as the:

– Name of the item

– Strength of the medication/item (i.e., the mg amount of a tablet, or mg/ml concentration of a liquid)

– Possible amount ingested (number of items, volume)

– Approximate time of ingestion

Knowing this information will drastically help improve your pet’s care and treatment.  They will also want to know information about how your pet was feeling prior to ingesting this item, if they are on any medications, or have any pre-existing conditions they should know about.

What if my Vet Recommends Surgery?

If your animal ingests something solid which cannot pass through the GI tract and cannot be vomited up as seen on x-rays or Ultrasound, surgery may be the only option.  When we open up the abdomen under anesthesia, the entire GI tract is felt between the fingers to find all of the possible locations where the foreign material could be.  Many times we have to make multiple cuts into the intestines to rid of foreign materials.  Once the material is removed, the areas of the intestines which were cut open are then sutured back together. A ‘Leak test’ is performed, injecting sterile saline into this area of the intestines to ensure the sutures have formed a strong seal from any leaks.

Of course, pain medication is given to keep your pet comfortable, and antibiotics are sent home with all pets to try to reduce infection risk from opening the intestinal tract. An Elizabethan collar (cone collar) is sent home with your pet to ensure they don’t bite or lick at the incision.

This is a very in depth surgery, and most animals aren’t at their healthiest prior, so these are animals who need to be monitored very thoroughly before, during, and especially after the procedure.  With feeding, they need small frequent meals for a few weeks to avoid overloading the intestines and potentially stretching the sections of the intestines with the sutures.

Prognosis depends on many factors, your vet will be able to discuss this in more depth with you while looking at each individual case.





Meeting Your Indoor Cat’s Needs

By Health, Uncategorized, Veterinarian No Comments

When thinking of what your pet cat’s daily needs, it is normal to assume just food, water and shelter. Unfortunately, this common misconception often leads to stress, particularly when it comes to indoor cats. The problem is that generally, stress in cats can lead to severe stress-related disease as well as behaviour problems. Cat environmental needs are just as important as food and water in their overall well-being. It is essential to provide them with opportunities to express normal behaviour to reduce stress in their lives (in addition to reducing vet visits for you!). All cats require the same environmental enrichment, regardless of if they are showing signs of stress or behaviour problems as unnoticed stress will, in all likelihood, progress to problems requiring veterinary involvement (over grooming, feline lower urinary tract disease, upper respiratory infections etc.). Here are some ways to implement environmental enrichment for your feline companion in your own home.

Puzzle Feeders

Puzzle feeders are a great way to mimic the natural hunting behaviour of working for a meal. This stimulates your cat to use their senses and wet or dry food can be used. There are many kinds of puzzle feeders available as well as tutorials online to make your own out of household supplies. Another benefit is that feeding with a puzzle feeder will take more time out of the cat’s day to eat. This reduces the amount of food consumed as well as reduces the amount of time to become bored and develop behaviour problems such as over grooming. Each cat should have their own feeding space plus an extra in case.


Cat It Food Tree & Cat It Senses Digger (links to – “Cat It” carries many other good environmental enrichment products for cats.

Trixie Flip Board Level 2 & Trixie Move 2 Win Level 3 (links to – Trixie has varied puzzles good for cats and dogs! Different levels to suit different abilities.

Cat Puzzle DIY (links to

DIY Interactive Cat Box (links to



Cats need their own space. They tend to be territorial especially when easily accessible resources are lacking. This includes space for feeding, water, litterboxes and scratching as well as vertical space and places to hide.

Water bowls should always be kept away from food as contamination of the water with food particles tends to discourage cats from drinking. Water can also be used as enrichment by adding pet water fountains to drink from as well.

Recommended: Petmate Fresh Flow Fountain (links to


In multi-cat households, each cat should be fed separately to reduce the occurrence of bullying. Cats should also have access to multiple water bowls spaced apart for this same reason.

A general rule for litterboxes is to have a litterbox for each cat, plus an extra. These litterboxes should be spaced out, cleaned consistently and allow for the cat to exit from two directions. This can help to reduce the occurrence of cats not using the litterbox as there will be less conflict in accessing the boxes.

Scratching posts are also an important part of a cat’s wellbeing. Normally, cats scratch to stretch (relieving tension, think of it as yoga for cats.), scent mark and sharpen/wear down claws.  If cats are scratching furniture, it indicates insufficient opportunity to display this necessary behaviour. Supply sturdy posts and mats with different materials to find out what your cat(s) prefer. Additionally, ensure your cat’s nails are regularly kept clipped to reduce the urge to scratch as often.

Vertical space is a great way to add space to your cat’s territory. Indoor cats need this space especially as it is not comparable to that of a natural outdoor cat’s territory. In multi-cat/animal households, it also gives space to avoid conflict and get away. This is necessary to enable your cat to calm down after a stressful encounter. Also, cats often enjoy watching the room/out the window from a high place where they can feel secure – another way to alleviate boredom.


Places to hide are essential to increase an anxious cat’s sense of security. Boxes with a hole cut out are a cheap, effective way to incorporate hiding places into your household. Tunnels and cat hideaways are also available from pet stores. Cat towers add places to scratch, vertical space and can have cubbies to hide in. These are highly recommended to enrich your cat’s environment. No matter how confident your cat may seem, places to hide are important. Not having sufficient places to hide can cause a lack of a sense of security thereby likely leading to reduced confidence, stress and eventually, possible stress-induced disease.


cat treeCat Trees/towers are great for providing places to hide, vertical space as well as a scratching post.

Although it may seem logical to get more cats to give your cat more stimulation, it is often detrimental to the cats’ wellbeing unless raised together from a young age. All cats are capable of living alone, some cats will accept social contact with another of their species but most will avoid it. If your cat is not bonded, it is far better not to have more than one cat. If you have more than one cat, even if bonded, ensure that the resources mentioned above are adequate. See “further information” section for signs of bonded cats.



Interaction is important to reduce boredom and its associated problematic behaviours. Cats that are bored, have excess energy and not enough stimulation tend to use their energy and focus on unwanted behaviours (over grooming, destruction of furniture, etc.). They often become stressed.

Cats naturally enjoy pouncing, it releases endorphins similarly to humans when exercising. This in turn makes them happier. It is recommended to engage in play with your cat with toys on sticks and toy mice for them to chase and pounce on. This mimics natural behaviour.

Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained. This is an ideal way to interact with your cat as well as stimulating them to think. Most cats are food driven so training should be done with treats. With calorie restricted cats, instead of feeding with a puzzle feeder, the cat can be fed their food as treats daily.

Another way to enrich their lives is to play cat DVDs (sold online and in pet stores). These DVDs include sounds and sights that fascinate the cat for hours. However, this doesn’t entice all cats but it worth trying out with your own. Outdoor bird feeders by accessible windows are similar in effect and often work with all cats.

RecommendedMovies For Cats – The Audio-Visual Cat Toy (links to


Further Information:

Indoor Cat Initiative – Ohio State University

The Body Language of Feline Anxiety (Poster) – Dr Sophia Yin

5 Signs of Bonded Cats

Feuding Felines – Dr Sophia Yin

Covered or Uncovered Litterboxes? – Dr Sophia Yin

Tips for Dealing With Urine Spraying – Dr Sophia Yin

Cold Weather Safety

By Disease, Health, Saftey, Staff, Veterinarian No Comments

January 2017                                                            Dr. Kim Quinn

It’s cold out there!  Just as in the heat of summer, we do need to take care of our pets in the cold of winter- protect them from the elements.  Each animal’s weather tolerance is different, depending on fat stores, fur coat, and other issues such as arthritis which can worsen with cold weather.  Animals with poor circulation due to other underlying issues such as kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, etc., can also reduce a pet’s cold tolerance.

Walking Safety

If it is too cold outside for you, it’s too cold outside for them.  Have your dog will wear a sweater or jacket when outside to help shield them from the wind.  If you’re going out for a walk and it is below zero, there are some great booties dogs can wear to help protect their feet from the cold.  My dog will limp if she is outside in the cold because it hurts her feet.  While she doesn’t like having the booties put on, she is much more comfortable on the walk and doesn’t limp during or afterwards.

If your pet isn’t wearing booties, check between their toes and remove any snow or ice balls which may have accumulated.  This will make your pet feel much more comfortable.  Wipe their feet down after coming in from outside, to remove any salt or de-icer still on their paws.  Road salt poses a unique hazard for our pets.  Ingestion of these salts can cause major GI issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, or even neurological issues.  To reduce the risk of ingestion with your dog, use a dog friendly variety such as PetSafe Icemelter.  This is a safer product since it does not contain salt, but instead amides which can cause some GI upset if in high dosages.  Of course, try to avoid your dog getting into any of these products for their own safety.

Avoid ice, which could cause you and/or your pet to slip and fall.  This is another situation where booties can be helpful in increasing traction.

Car Safety

Don’t leave your pet alone in the car or outside for longer than 5 minutes in the cold.  They become subject to hypothermia from the lower temperatures much quicker than we do, they have a much higher surface area to lose the heat from!

When going outside to start up your car, bang on your hood a few times.  Animals can hide amongst the warm car engines during the wintertime, to seek out any heat.  This may save a life!

If you’re refilling any fluids for your car, keep your pets inside!  Clean up any messes left behind as soon as possible.  Antifreeze is very toxic to pets, causing fatal kidney failure if left untreated.

House Safety

Ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors around the house, especially near the furnace or other gas powered appliances. It could save many lives!

Stay safe out there!Dog Toe Impressions in Snow

Canine Vaccines

By Health, Saftey, Vaccines, Veterinarian No Comments

Dogs have a range of different vaccines which we administer, based on their likelihood of exposure due to their lifestyle. What are these vaccines and why do we recommend protection?  Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to form antibodies, essentially soldiers whose job is to seek out viruses/bacteria and destroy them before they produce ill effects or to reduce disease severity and duration.





Distemper Combination Vaccine (DA2PP) This vaccine has a combination of four different viruses:

  1. Distemper

Distemper is virus which attacks many different areas of the body- often the respiratory tract is first, but vomiting/diarrhea, callouses on the nose and footpads, seizures, muscle rigidity, abnormal tooth enamel formation, death, etc. Thank goodness this vaccine is available. With such a severe disease, vaccination has drastically reduced the number of distemper cases present.

  1. Adenovirus
  2. Parainfluenza

Since both Adenovirus and Parainfluenza cause the same types of symptoms, I am going to lump them together for this discussion.  Both these viruses cause upper respiratory infections initially, but can also lead to bronchitis if left untreated.

  1. Parvovirus

Most people have heard of this virus, it is highly contagious via feces from dog to dog and can be fatal if left untreated.  It can cause a bloody diarrhea, with the most susceptible patients being puppies, especially if they are not fully vaccinated when they are exposed. The vaccine drastically reduces the disease severity, each booster vaccine strengthens the immune system.

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is an easily transmitted virus mainly through bites since it is transmitted via saliva, but also can be obtained from drinking from a contaminated puddle (somewhat rare).  With Rabies being a fatal virus which attacks the nervous system, this is a public health issue and thus is the only Provincially Mandated Vaccination.  All dogs and cats should be kept up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations to keep them, and the people they contact, safe.

Leptospirosis Vaccine

Treating a dog with leptospirosis can be heartbreaking, they become ill so quickly after drinking from a contaminated puddle, or licking their paws after walking through a contaminated water source.  Animals such as rats, squirrels and racoons can harbor the bacteria which is urinated into puddles.  The bacteria makes the trip to the liver and/or kidneys, causing the organs to be unable to function.  Dogs develop vomiting, dehydration, inappetance, lethargy, and will die without proper treatment.  Often times, these dogs are hospitalized for a full week on IV fluids, antibiotics, and medication for their nausea to keep them eating.  Even worse, this bacteria can be spread to people via contaminated urine.

Lyme Vaccine

Ticks are a major issue in this area, especially during spring and fall.  Not all ticks transmit Lyme disease, but the Ixodes ticks which can spread the disease are increasing in the area. Lyme disease causes issues such as joint stiffness and pain, kidney damage, lethargy, etc.  The lyme vaccine helps to protect our dogs who have been bitten by a lyme infected tick by giving the dog antibodies to fight the lyme bacteria once it is in the body.  This is an important vaccine for dogs going in lyme endemic areas such as the Provincial Parks, Ojibway, camping or travelling dogs, since these ticks are found near wildlife such as deer and mice, but also migrating birds!

‘Kennel Cough’ Vaccine (Bordetella, Parainfluenza, Adenovirus)

The CIRDC complex- or ‘Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex’ – is a group of bacteria and viruses which cause similar signs of sneezing, coughing, and if the infection spreads to the lungs, a pneumonia.  These are diseases easily acquired from breathing in bacteria or viruses which have been sneezed or coughed out by another dog. The locations our dogs are most likely to infect themselves include: a grooming salon, dog park, another dog on the other side of the fence, the vet clinic, etc., any other location where there will be an infect dog nearby.  The great news about the vaccine is, while our dogs can still pick up the bacteria or virus, they are going to be better protected from actually becoming ill from these infectious agents.  It may mean a few days of coughing in a vaccinated patient, versus a fatal pneumonia in an unvaccinated patient.   Now, after learning all this information, think about your dog.  What are they exposed to (other dogs, wildlife, ticks, puddles), and what should your dog be protected against?

– Dr. Kim Quinn DOG

Animal Wellness Bloodwork

By Disease, Health, Patients, Saftey, Veterinarian No Comments

Medicine is an adapting science- as it evolves, we similarly evolve to provide better care.  “Fire Engine” medicine was the norm years ago, only seeing the doctor when there was an emergency.  Now, we strive to practice preventative medicine- identifying and treating issues before they cause major health abnormalities. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is of the upmost truth and importance.

It is for this reason that human doctors perform yearly bloodwork, even when we are young and healthy.  At our Veterinary clinic, we are no different.  Before any anaesthetic procedure we perform wellness bloodwork, especially before spay or neuter surgery when our patients are a year of age or less.  Monitoring kidney and liver values at a young age will help identify certain genetic issues causing organ insufficiency, but also gives us a baseline for comparison for when your pet is ill in the future.

What a difference a year makes! Remember, pets age much faster than we do.  One year of their life can be akin to anywhere between 6 to 9 years of our lives.  Yearly bloodwork is always a great idea, but even more so when our pets become seniors.  In most dogs and cats, we consider a get to be a senior when they’ve surpassed seven years of age.

Here are some examples of blood tests we perform to identify abnormalities with our patients:

Kidney Function

– The kidneys are a paired organ which helps excrete toxins into urine, regulates blood concentration and pressure, and red blood cell production. Parameters such as Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Creatinine and Urine testing help elucidate function of the kidneys.  A newer parameter to us, SDMA, helps to identify when damage to the kidneys exceeds 25%, instead of waiting for BUN or Creatinine to elevate- which may only occur when over 75% damage has occurred!

Liver Function

– There are a few liver enzymes which are either released when liver cells die, or if they leak out of the cell.  Monitoring these trends over time help us to know overall liver health.  With very small breeds, often we will even perform a liver function test called Bile Acids, to help us identify possible genetic issues which may pose complications with anesthesia.

Gall Bladder/Pancreas/Intestines

– Organs very close to the liver, there are some blood values which give us hints as to whether these organs are functioning well.  If there are any abnormalities with these values, we may recommend other imaging tests such as abdominal ultrasounds to look into the issue further.

Complete Blood Count

– This panel of tests examines numbers and structure of Red and White Blood Cells in the bloodstream, helping to identify if there are infections or inflammatory issues which may be present.

Sodium/Potassium and other Ions

– Vomiting, reduced absorption or increased loss will change concentrations of these ions.  When it proceeds to one extreme or the other, we may need to intervene with treatments.

These are just a few examples of the parameters we evaluate with our wellness blood panels, depending on the blood panel which is chosen for your pet.  Help us find issues before they become major health concerns!








Feline Vaccines

By Disease, Health, Saftey, Veterinarian No Comments

By: Kimberley Quinn                                                                           October, 2016

Most owned cats are indoor only, reducing their risk of exposure to viruses from other cats which can make them ill.  Even indoor cats can be at risk, thus keeping their vaccines up-to-date is an excellent idea! Indoor cats can try to escape, or can be nose-to-nose with a feral cat through a screened window or door.  Interestingly, many cats are exposed to viruses from their mother cat around the time of birth.  During their lives, exposure may change.  Areas of higher exposure would include: being in a shelter, going outdoors, living in a multi-cat household, etc.

There are three different vaccines which we administer to cats to strengthen their immune system, helping them be prepared for a viral attack.  All vaccine plans are tailored to the specific patient.

  1. Feline Leukemia

The “friendly” cat virus, Feline Leukemia can be obtained from drinking from an infected puddle, through bites, while in mom’s womb, or through grooming.

This virus causes the destruction of T-cells, immune system cells needed to fight infections.  When this population of immune cells are destroyed, the cat is then susceptible to other infections, anemia, and cancers.

With any kitten, we recommend blood testing first for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) to determine whether they have already been exposed to these viruses. Once we know they are negative for these viruses, they are vaccinated for Feline Leukemia twice, one month apart, to give some immunity.

When our cats grow, if they are deemed to not be an escape risk, are not going outside, then the vaccine can be stopped.


  1. Feline Upper Respiratory Complex “FVRCP”

    (Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis, Panleukemia (Feline Distemper), Chlamydia)

Upper respiratory viruses (Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis and Chlamydophila) are very easily transmitted between cats via grooming, sharing bowls, or when at high density locations (such as animal shelters, outdoor cats).  Persian cats are especially at risk due to their flattened facial anatomy. The most common symptoms would be upper respiratory or eye infections, but they can also cause oral ulcers.  Kittens will have three boosters of FVRCP when kittens, boostered at their annual appointment, then every 3 years (Depending on the vaccine which is used).

Panleukemia is a parvovirus which causes a suppression of the immune system as well as severe, life threatening diarrhea.

Viruses such as feline herpesvirus can stay dormant in the body until a period of stress causes them to re-emerge.  Vaccinating cats for upper respiratory viruses aids in the prevention of illness, or if they have already been exposed, to reduce the length and severity of illness.


  1. Feline Rabies

The incidence of rabies in the wildlife population has decreased exponentially due to excellent prevention and control programs such as wildlife vaccine baiting and domestic pet vaccination.  Hamilton area has had a few incidences recently of rabies in wild animals being transmitted to domestic dogs and cats within the last year, strengthening our resolve to continue protecting our pets. There have only been 4 cases of humans acquiring rabies in Ontario since 1985. In comparison with the rest of the world, the WHO estimates there are 55,000 human deaths from rabies each year in Asia and Africa, with 30-50% of cases occurring in children under 15 years of age. (Public Health Agency of Canada)

We vaccinate for rabies to protect our pets, ourselves, our friends and family.  Rabies virus is easily transferred by scratches or bites to people or other animals.  The virus can be fatal within days.

If a cat does scratch or bite a human, it is reported to the Health Unit and the animal is put under quarantine.  Quarantine is essentially a ‘house-arrest’ for the pet, the Health Unit re-evaluates the pet a certain number of days after the quarantine to ensure the pet is still alive and well.


If your kitten or cat is due for vaccines, or you would like to discuss your cat’s risk further, please give us a call.





Disaster Preparedness

By Health, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Saftey, Veterinarian No Comments

Tornadoes and other natural disasters remind us that we can never be too prepared for an incident.  During the ice storm a few years ago, I remember my mother filling up jars of water and stocking the basement with canned goods ‘just-in-case’.  After this week’s tornados, getting similarly prepared is an excellent idea.  But, what can we do for our pets?

  1. Make a pet first-aid kit and keep it in a location known to the entire family.

Some items to keep in the kit include: Veterinary records, extra pet medications, photos of your pets, phone number and directions to the clinic, emergency contact information, poison control, bandage equipment, tick pullers, wound disinfectants, benedryl (diphenhydramine), gloves, a leash, styptic powder, a muzzle, and nail trimmers.

  1. Have a pet carrier handy in which your animal can turn around in comfortably.

Don’t wait for an emergency to occur, stores may sell out!  Have enough carriers to evacuate your animals on short notice. Don’t take your animals out of their carriers unless you’re in an enclosed space.  Animals don’t know what is happening, the fear can drive them to run away- regardless of your intentions.

  1. Ensure your pet is microchipped.

Collars and tags can fall off pets easily, a microchip is for life.

  1. Always keep a supply of food and water available for all of the animals for at least one week.
  2. Put a decal sticker on your window which states how many and the types of pets in the house.
  3. If you have to evacuate your house, take your pet with you in a carrier, especially if you are unsure how many days it will be until your return.